The Naked Truth/Jamala Rogers

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‘Victim to a Well Laid Trap’

‘Victim to a well laid trap’ indeed. These are the reflective words of Claudine Gay — now the former president of Harvard University. Gay, the prestigious university’s first African American president, had barely been on the job for six months. We must be clear; this is hardly about plagiarism. It’s more like a continuation of the attacks on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) that I wrote about a couple of issues ago in Capital City Hues.

My column addressed the hostage tactics of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to hold up funds to the University of Wisconsin system if it would turn its back on fairness and inclusion. It wouldn’t be long before UW regents caved, giving, the GOP another victory in the anti-DEI campaign.

Gay’s reference to the trap came out in her guest essay published in the New York Times the day after her resignation. Being the brilliant woman she is, it didn’t take long for her to think about, then pen her thoughts as to what really happened and why.

The title of her essay says it all: What Just Happened at Harvard is Bigger Than Me. That’s because anyone in positions of power and influence are in the crosshairs of the anti-DEI or the Zionists. For Claudine Gay, she was a victim of a double whammy. Gay won’t be the last.

The conservatives in this country are going after people with a vengeance who uphold diversity and who don’t unequivocally support Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.

After being grilled by Rep. Elise Stefanik at a congressional hearing, University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned. Now on a roll, Stefanik vowed to bring down the presidents of Harvard and MIT. That’s two down and one to go.

The conservatives believe college administrations must be whipped into shape. That means suppressing the voices of dissent to give room for the anti-democratic voices. Colleges and universities, already on the ropes from the U.S. Supreme Courts’ strike against affirmative action, seem to be cowering to the pressures from the Right. It has been painful to watch.

Gay has experienced the wrath of racist, patriarchal elements on the long road to heading up Harvard University. She knows this is not about her, it’s about a “broader way to unravel public faith in pillars of American society.” This country is fast unraveling, torn asunder by zealots who don’t see anyone who is not white or male as full-fledged citizens. The goal is to put them in second-class status.

Gay as a human and as an academic deserves the opportunity to be rehabilitated. If not, her tumultuous descent as the shortest in Harvard history, will be all that people will remember about her. It falls directly into place as right-wingers attempt to discredit Black history or make it disappear altogether.

Do you really wanna talk about plagiarism? Billionaire Bill Ackman railed on Claudine Gay for her alleged plagiarism. It seems his wife, Neri Oxman, is accused of stealing quotes from Wikipedia — of all places — for her MIT dissertation.

I say people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Oh my, do I need to annotate that quote?

The Naked Truth/Jamala Rogers

Jamala RogersColor

The Politics of Redistricting

Wisconsin can see more clearly the critical role of the court system in the interpretation of laws and the protection of our democracy. In a redistricting showdown, the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently declared the Republican-drawn legislative districts unconstitutional (a nicer word for illegal). These are the same maps vetoed by Governor Tony Evers a couple of years ago. The court ordered new maps be drawn before the 2024 elections.

What a difference elections can make. The determined efforts of Wisconsin voters to elect Janet Protasiewicz as a justice earlier this year is already bearing fruit. The Republican-dominated state assembly and its runaway conservative laws can now be held accountable — even overruled — when brought before the state’s highest court.

The main role of the three branches of U.S. government have become obscured. The Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches exist on local, state and federal levels as checks and balances. The more ideological our body politics, the more challenging  those checks become. When the state legislature produced its unfair and illegal map, the governor tried to check it. When that didn’t work, the court checked it. This is how our democracy is supposed to work. When the checks don’t work, democracy will be unbalanced.

Conservatives have wreaked havoc on this component of our democracy. A president, governors and mayors have been elected to unleash the extremist agenda. Conservatives have swarmed legislatures like a horde of locusts to lock in their majorities. They have aggressively and systemically made court appointments to secure predictable rulings in their favor. This is not a chess game; it’s how democracy works.

To worsen matters, conservatives have no problem in trampling the U.S. Constitution, ignoring voter sentiments and abuse authority along the way. The Wisconsin legislature knew it was crossing the line when it drew its map. Among other violations, it was well aware that including non-contiguous districts in the redrawn maps violated the state constitution. We’ve seen this pattern of reckless behavior, costing time and taxpayers’ money. Let’s do it anyway and see if we can get away with it.

Groups like the non-partisan Brennan Justice Center vigorously monitor and uphold the values of our democracy. It has been quite busy since 2019 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Rucho v. Common Cause took the country sideways and outside of federal courts. This has not deterred citizens seeking justice, particularly as it relates to gerrymandered maps.

Wisconsin is one of 18 states challenging the legality of maps redrawn after the census. These maps help to predict the balance of power in state and congressional legislatures. In a country with a basic two-party system, the wrestling of power is between the Democrat and Republican parties. The bottom line is which party has the political clout to gear the balance towards its own interests.

A good example of how this plays out is looking at the inconsistencies of state Supreme Courts when it comes to dealing with the ballot disqualification of former president trump. If the courts were truly upholding the U.S. Constitution, all would have to rule against trump based upon the section of the 14th Amendment. This section is clear that anyone who "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against the United States must be barred from running for or holding office. This seems logical.

Unfortunately, logic, fairness and accountability have been thrown out the window in the quest for consolidating power by any means necessary. It is a scenario that puts more pressure on citizens to get involved in protecting the laws that uphold a democracy. Next year, voters will be called upon to hold our democracy back from the slippery slope of authoritarianism. We must be up to the task.